Friday, March 28, 2014

Show and Tell! Dr. Corbitt speaks to the Uptown School Girls group

We have a common saying in our house; I can show you better than I can tell you!

It was with that spirit that I brought my daughter, an MD, PhD, to my mentor session with The Young Ladies of Distinction, an empowerment group for girls at the Uptown Middle School in Atlantic City.

Two of the young ladies met us at the front door of the school building. They were easily recognized by their purple pashmina scarves....a special treat to the uniform policy. Bright smiles and firm handshakes welcomed us and beckoned us to follow.

The building was bustling with end of the day announcements and activity bells! These girls were as focused as if it were the beginning of the day!

We started our meeting by listening to them say their creed in unison. Words of empowerment about their worth, their actions, their future were like music to my ears. To see them is to believe them. These girls mean business.

I had previously arranged a tour at the world famous toy store FAO in NY for the girls and we spent our first few minutes recapping their trip! The were filled with stories of the big city and gratitude.
YLOD in Times Square!
Then, I spoke to the girls about their own brand and about how important every action they take now will have on their future. They were attentive and all the way "leaned in!" We did an activity around being a champion for ones self and the other members of the group and it really was an exercise to learn more about the hopes and dreams of the girls and allow them to practice public speaking.

Mixed in the conversation on great brands, and favorite pastimes, a few of the girls expressed interest in medicine.

 My daughter joined in the conversation....full of affirmations. When we took the group picture she looked more like them than the profession I know to be hers. When she said JayZ was her favorite rapper they really took a shine to her.

What happened next brought tears to my eyes and filled my heart. Their adviser, Mrs. Jackson, a gifted teacher and nurturing caregiver to these girls, casually pulled up Google and typed in my daughter's name. On their pull down screen in front of the class she showed up in her white coat and all of her credentials. She talked to them about how long and what it takes to really be a scientist and or a physician. She had them visualize what it would look like, how old would they be, what they need to do. More than anything.....she looked like them. She went to public school just like them. She was brought up with their city as a place she knows. If she is what a doctor looks like then so are they!   Showing them was better than telling them!

We wrapped things up with a real practice session. Natasha, yikes...Dr. Corbitt, pulled out her stethoscope and let the girls come over and have a listen. She answered their thoughtful and provoking questions. She listened.

I gave out a bit of swag and did my firm handshakes goodbye. I was composed and proper but I wanted to kick and shout. These girls shine so bright I need to shield my eyes. The added bonus was seeing my daughter in this I've always known how smart she is and how good she is at her job....but in that setting I saw why pediatric surgery is her specialty. She really has a way with the kids.

I look forward to this dedicated time with these young people like it was the most important thing I have to do. It may seem like time I am giving truth....they are giving me the gift of sight...into a beautiful future where girls can do and be anything! I look forward to them showing me better than I can tell you here. And that is real talk!

If you are reading this and are inspired by these girls in the way that I am give the gift of your time to a young person where you live! Every flower needs a lil water to show it's bloom! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

5 Life Lessons from Behind the Wheel

The knock came early in the morning and sounded like the police. Bang, bang, bang! I moved slowly to answer but my 16 year old son was up and ready! He had been waiting for months. Years probably. Today is the day for his permit and 3 hour driving lesson! I was pretty certain he would be ok....not too sure about me though!

My husband came to the banister....still sleepy from a late night at work. He pulled his robe close and said to the instructor, " That is precious cargo right there. I want you to know. " They gave each other long knowing looks and out the door we went!

I was all smiles and chatter. Be careful. Listen. Pay attention. Let me get a picture. Have fun! All of the right things were said. I had done this twice before with my older children. No problem. I smiled and waved good bye.

I made it up to the porch before the 1st tear slid down my face. Really? Where did the time go? So many's dangerous out there. Don't use your phone. Keep your music low. Like, way low. Oh geez. I may not make it 3 hours.

I thought of the lessons taught while learning to drive.....these gave me a bit of solace. They are not just good for teens....they are good for life.

1. Put on your seat belt! The roads and life can be dangerous so a focus on safety can't hurt. Shockingly minorities are less likely to wear a seat belt and that leads to unnecessary deaths. Come on. Buckle up!

2. Check your rear view mirror often but your main focus is what's ahead! Too much checking on what's behind can make you miss what life has coming your way. Stay focused!

3. Yield! Oh, you can Bogart if you want to...and sometimes you may get in...but it can cost you. Everything isn't a battle and ask it worth it?

4.  Sometimes you have to slow down or change lanes to go fast. Speeding up to go nowhere doesn't serve anyone. Sometimes it's not speed but precision that leads to progress!

5. ENJOY THE RIDE!! The landscape may change, and the ride can be bumpy, but look around, take it in and be thankful!

I can't bring myself to add a lesson I haven't practiced : Don't worry. Even though I know it is bad for me....worry is something I have mastered. But I will try to worry less. This boy of mine...who is in transition to a man....kind, handsome, lanky, and still growing.......where will his road take him? I don't know the answer but I know that my heart will be wrapped all the way up in wherever it is......real talk!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The great Toilet Paper Caper!!!

I love to save! And I love sharing the "how-to" of saving with friends. There was never a better time to share than fall of 2011......I call it the Great Toilet Paper Caper.

I had been "couponing" as a hobby for a little while when I hit pay dirt! These kind of deals are super scarce these days but at the time this was an adrenaline raising, blood thumping, OMG moment! Take a look.....

What you can't see are the bags and boxes of the rest next to my kitchen table!! It was all FREE! And I had $54 to spend on other things. It was mind blowing!! I was so excited I had a "how to" party for my friends and as a parting gift....well.....that got the thing that everyone needs!! A bag full of toilet paper! Ha!

I gave away tons....put some in every bathroom, the laundry room, and the basement! It was everywhere!

In the time that has passed I have had several parties with 50 plus people.....illnesses of the stomach variety if you know what I mean.....4 bathrooms full and just keep rolling! Until today........

This is what the pantry looked like this morning...........
what's left from my TP haul of 2011
Panic set in. My blood pressure started going up. I mean....we are one bad order of Chinese food away from disaster!! I had to take action!! I hit Shoprite for the killer sale on paper products and armed with my coupons I am back in business! Let the germs fly....I am ready!!
For all of this.....Over $90 in product I paid $20 and I still have $10 to spend. 3 packs of TP gives me a bit of breathing room before I need to get more. No need to go nuts and fill your house with crazy items you will never need really makes sense to stock up on those....ummm.....necessities when the price is LOW so you aren't forced to pay top dollar. These savings allow me to give more to charity and well.....some women love shoes.....I get happy from a full pantry! And you know...saving is sexy! Real talk!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ebony and Ivory! The blessing that is friendship

I am one lucky girl. I am blessed with women in my life that I can count on, that want the best for me, and that I enjoy. I know it is a blessing because all around me I see examples of what it looks like when that is not the case. It is a curious thing, when relationships go wrong with women, because it starts early!! Like 7-8. All of a sudden someone thinks you think you're cute....or bossy....or...gasp! Conceited. They stop sitting next to you on the bus or at the lunch table. It is crazy because in many instances it has no is without explanation!

As adults it's just the same. You can be friends with me as long as you stay in your lane......that job.....hmmmm, you fancy now? That house....bougie. No you didn't buy that couch I was looking at......I would laugh because it's funny but I could cry because it's true!

So when I say I am blessed with women in my life that give me the fuel I need to be and do my best....I really do mean blessed. That I am thankful, grateful even, to enjoy the kind of connectedness that keeps you stable even when things around you may not be. My  bracelet of friendship has added a few links here and there but it is still the one I've worn since high school. Some links are polished more often than others but the bonds are so deep that whenever we connect the fit is just right!

Last month I took a trip to Mexico with my bestie.....the Ivory to my Ebony....the driver of this Miss Daisy. We can be an odd couple....she is a bit older...but I am the bossier of the two. She is white and I am black. She leans right and I grab her kicking and screaming left!!!

Our trip was filled with the spoils of a fantastic vacation.....perfect days....pretty people...gourmet dinners......add coffee in the morning and margaritas throughout the remainder of the day and what could be better!

But there was something else about the trip that made it fantastic. You couldn't see it....or put your finger on it...but it was in the quiet of being with a person who only wants the best for you.....there is no tab or agenda.....just...goodness.

A little over a year ago, she lost her husband of more than 30 years. It has been tough. But she has been tougher. I have watched her like a worry and bossy ways prevailing. She looks great....seems ok.....but is she really? Our week together uninterrupted gave me the answer I already knew. She will always be ok because she makes a choice to be happy! To keep it moving! This is why we get along so well.

Of the hundreds of vacation photos and dare I say...FB posts....this pic does more than sum up our Mexico experience. It speaks to me of our friendship.....she doesn't mind pushing me out front.....she will sometimes follow my lead....rusty bikes or rusty is an adventure and she always has my back!! Of all of the things I value most in life her friendship is at the top of that list. They say that friends are the family you choose......I couldn't agree more!  Appreciate life's gifts....not the material ones.....but the ones that cannot be replaced. Real talk people! Realtalk!

Diane and Nicole February 2014 

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nic's trips! Push pin office map!

The office makeover continues! I really am loving how it looks! Such a happy space! This easy project was super fast....20 minutes! Woop! And super cheap! $20! Yepper!

I wanted to have a visual of some of the places I have traveled to and I happened to have an old map in the basement that actually fit the color scheme of the office. Who knew?! I moved it up to my gift wrap bin thinking I would frame it.

I was not too keen on hanging something heavy on the wall and if I put glass over it I would be limited to marking my destinations......hmmmmm.....what to do?

Eureka!!! Installation Board! ( may remember that I am a lil obsessed with this stuff because it is BIG and it is CHEAP!)  check out some of my most pinned projects using this stuff here:

I bought the cheapest board from Lowe's for $10.75. It is supper big. I had them cut it into thirds 

right at the counter so it would fit in my car. 3' by 4' each piece! ( that's 3 big projects
 for $11 bucks! What???!!!!)  If you want it really thick you could go up to the $15 sheet but, well....that's too
 rich for my blood!
You will need a spray adhesive for foam. Now.....if you use something else you will think your  board has a 
flesh eating disease because it will start to crumble!! I used this can here and it has worked for 6 projects plus I have
a ton left!!
I used masking tape tape on the back to hold the map
in place. Made creases in the folds then lightly sprayed!

What I love about this "canvas" technique (aside from it being CHEAP!!) is that you don't need any holes to get this big baby up on the wall. Use the command stickers and you are rolling! I buy these every time I see them on sale because.......that how I roll. heehee
SO here she is all done! I need some cuter push pins but for now these are doing the trick. I really love her!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meet Blue Belle my new office cabinet!! $40!

Ok, I have been looking for the right piece to go in my office for over a year. It has to be the right size and I have to house my family room tv components on it as well. this is what the space looked like before.........
I know, I know! A hot mess! The rest of the office is great but this was more like a dumping ground. Another challenge is the light switch. see how far into the wall it is? I know....who does that? So whatever I use can't cover the switch. And....since it's me, well, you know I want to do it all for under $50! My husband said I was nuts and that it was an impossible expectation. That motivated me even more and I hit up my favorite cousin Craig.....Craigslist that is! Here is what I found..........
She is short (this is good because I want to use the top) and skinny (this is great because of the light switch problem) and they say make an offer!! Feeling tingly!!!! I send this pic to my husband who is use to getting random pics from me with a question mark next to them, then I send a note to the owner saying, Ummm, how about $25. (heehee! A girl has to try right?) To my surprise she replies...$30 takes it! Woop! Next note to husband says, "scratch the question mark! She's mine! I need you to pick her up! Oh and I am making your favorite dinner!!!!) HA! You have to feed the help people!! Feeling really excited now!!

Get her home and ditch the glass. Have the help (hubby) drill a hole into the back for possible cords and go to my fav chalk paint recipe! I grabbed $10 quart of paint from Lowe's and had the plaster of paris on hand! Time to get busy!! After my 1st coat here she is......

look at those velvet lined drawers.....I could weep from joy!

Remember the best thing with Chalkpaint is no sanding or priming. Be still my heart I am in love with this stuff! Now...I did have a bit of splintering that I filled with wood putty and smoothed out and the chalkpaint slid right over it all! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!  The blue was a little off from the hues in the office so I added a lil creme to the chalkpaint and hit the second coat. I followed that up with some super shine!!! POLY!! Oh yeah, wear a mask when working with that stuff! PU! And, don't forget.....Fast, light coats. I did 2 coats and let her sit! Are you ready? She is not finished being dressed, and I had to put the components on the top because the kids regularly disconnect the playstation and I wanted to give them easier access sooooo....
Meet Blue Belle! My office cabinet:
This drawer is everything! Hello!!! 10 rolls of wrap! Dreamy!!!

She has a wrapping drawer and stores the sewing and painting kits below as well as packing and wrapping supplies. And.....well, isn't she just cute! I love her! And I love that for $40 I have a functional, fun piece that gives my space some order. So many times we wait for perfect or to have enough $$ or whatever it is we are waiting on.....I couldn't wait! I made a budget, did a lil looking, put in a lil elbow grease....and really love the result! Hope this inspires you to start a new project! Spring will be here before you know it! Real talk!

Partying with: http://www.thepinjunkie